What Should I Do If I Get a Bench Warrant?

Most warrants are fairly cut and dry: the judge signs a document, and the police are at your doorstep the next day. The warrant gives cops the right to arrest a suspect, search a home, business or other location, or seize property.

A bench warrant, on the other hand, directs the police to take the person directly before the court to address the reason the warrant was issued (the “bench” is the traditional term for the judge’s seat). Bench warrants are typically issued in the case of “FTA,” or failure to appear for trial.

Once you’re before the court, you’ll have to post bail before you can be released. Typically, bail  on a bench warrant will be enough to cover the fines both for FTA and the original offense. If you already know that you have a bench warrant out for your arrest, you can call the clerk of the court or the local police department. They can help you arrange to come in and pay the bail so that the warrant will be recalled.

Having an experienced criminal lawyer on your side can show the judge that you take the charges seriously, and that you’re genuinely sorry for your failure to appear.